Friday, June 30, 2006
Bob Capshew, “The Incider,” and the Rocky Meadow orchard.
As the text of the newsletter reprinted here clearly indicates, longtime friend Bob Capshew has commenced the exciting task of rehabbing -- not a house, motorbike or antique, but a whole pear orchard.
It reminds me of the famous "Music Man" snippet:
A gentleman and a Bob with a capital
'B' and that rhymes with 'P' and that stands for 'Perry'
Currently we carry a French-made perry, Christian Drouin Poire, in bottles at Rich O's, and in the past served Gwatkin Blakeney Red Perry (U.K.; unavailable at present) in plastic polypins.
Bob will be needing help if we're someday to enjoy locally crafted perry, and if you're interested, e-mail me and I'll pass it along. Here's his newsletter.
June 2006, No. 1
Welcome to the inaugural issue of “The Incider,” a newsletter for the friends of the Rocky Meadow orchard. As many of you already know, this winter I took on the task restoring a mature pear orchard to production. This newsletter will bring you up-to-date on what I feel is a very exciting but little known local treasure.
Rocky Meadow Nursery and Orchard was started by Ed and Pat Fackler in the late 1970s on a 31 acre farm near New Salisbury, Indiana. They grafted and sold nursery trees as well as unusual fruit until about five years ago when they sold the farm. The orchard remains as a testimonial of years of experimentation and research. Anyone that bought fruit trees in the 1980s and 1990s remembers Ed as one of the most knowledgeable experts in his field.
The orchard currently has several hundred mature apple and pear trees. The pear tree plantings are very diverse with over 70 varieties – probably one of the largest private collections of pears in the U.S. Nature has taken its toll but there are still approximately 160 pear trees remaining. Untended pear trees often grow into shapes that discourage fruit production. After months of trimming, the trees are now starting to show promise with lots of fruit. If the average yield is ½ bushel per tree there will be 80 bushels (3,000+ pounds) of pears to pick this fall. The picking will start in August and continue through October.
There are two types of pears at the orchard – European and Asian. The European pears are picked then ripened at room temperature after cold storage. These are the traditional pears that have a “buttery” texture. Asian pears are allowed to ripen on the tree and are usually round and crunchy. Some weigh as much as 2 pounds each and may be stored for up to 10 months. The pears will be stored in the large walk-in cooler at the orchard. Each pear variety has a unique ripening date and storage life. Most of the trees have been tagged with their name and location to aid in identification at picking time.
For those of you that worked on my home made garbage disposal/beer keg press system you will be glad to know that I have now purchased a used commercial press with a high speed grinder and a hydraulic press. The yield from the commercial press should be between 3.5 to 4.0 gallons per bushel. Thanks to all who helped move it from New Albany’s Hillside Orchard recently.
We now have electricity in the barn which has allowed us to do some inside painting in preparation for the juice making. Even our new puppy, Porter, has helped as evidenced by his yellow ear!
Special thanks also go to my wife Maureen, Ben Capshew, Eric Waters, Kevin Richards, Jason Masingo, Rick Buckman, Charlie Gray, Leah Dienes, Kent Royse, Steve Cotton, Bob Reed and Roger Young for their help on other projects.
If anyone would like to visit or help at the orchard, please give me a call or drop an e-mail. Chores range from light (e.g. thin pears, tree identification) to heavy (e.g. string trim around trees, cut wood, hauling wood). Stay tuned as we approach harvest!